Helping Isabelle (and her mom) find peace
I first heard of Scott Raymond after consulting a holistic veterinarian, Dr Nuccio, here in Portland. My Golden Retriever Isabelle, had been showing signs of reactivity at one year old and at the age of two it was worse. I had received some wonderful training for her high arousal from Paws to Freedom, a service dog training organization. But the specialty there wasn’t for reactive dogs.
I decided to meet with Scott and his partner Valli (the founders of Synergy Veterinary Behavior) for private sessions. For the first two years of her life I had Isabelle to every conceivable location to work and train with her: PSU, the Pearl, West 23rd , Farms and Pioneer Square. However, as time went on, I was more and more afraid to pass other dogs. I found myself ready to jump curbside, because at too close a range, Isabelle would jump other dogs.
I live right by Forest Park, but I couldn’t take her up there, because if dogs came up to her off lead she would lunge and growl . My world became smaller and smaller. And soon we were limited to our own street, then our own yard. My lovely soft Golden was just too much to handle because she felt so threatened by other dogs.
Scott worked right away on appropriate ways to channel her arousal into positive games. He went with me through my neighborhood to assess the challenges we were met with everyday. Right away I saw small improvements between Isabelle and I.
Scott fine tuned my understanding of dog body language to be better poised to get in front of the problem rather than react to it. Indeed, along with my dog, I had gotten reactive as well. Neither of us were having any fun on walks anymore. There was a potential dog problem around every corner.
That was October of 2009. Since then we have done more than I could have imagined. We actually completed Synergy’s class with real success, and had a lot of fun doing it. We take walks in the park, though not on the busiest of trails. Isabelle is still about management, but she has way more fun than she used to rather than being so worried all the time. And I have way more fun and confidence knowing I’m prepared to lead my dog through a more enjoyable life.
Scott has a wonderful positive demeanor with dogs and people as well . He kindly eased my fears about doing something wrong with lots of positive encouragement and plenty of clear strategies for coping with explosive situations, how to keep a clear head and how to be effective and move on positively from any mistakes. That’s a pretty special component for novices who, through circumstances, have been forced to go deeper into training than they ever imagined!
I feel that I received a mentorship rather than just training, rather than blaming myself for her being reactive we focused on how to deal positively at the place we were at. Its one of those lifetime opportunities that’s life changing.
Synergy Behavior Solutions
Jodi Burton - Portland, Oregon